Why you'll love this course

A lot of ethics courses keep the discussion at a surface level. This one is different. It's taught at an advanced level, and is meant to challenge assumptions you may have about when and why telling lies to clients may be justified.

Course description

No therapist is fully honest and transparent with their clients. Nor should we be. Clients typically do not benefit from knowing the first moment we suspect they may have a personality disorder or other serious pathology. We typically don't want clients to know about any countertransference reactions we may have to them. And many therapists will eagerly lie to clients when we believe it necessary to protect their safety or the safety of others. If we accept all of these as not just true but in the interest of good client care, a conversation can open about *when* to be honest and transparent with clients, when to simply stay silent, and when it may be beneficial to lie.

In this advanced workshop, we'll have that conversation. We review ethical standards related to truth in therapy, their links to common moral and philosophical stances, policies that therapists adopt around secrets in couple and family work, and a number of case examples that cut directly to the limits of our desire and intention to be honest with clients.

Learning objectives

By the end of this workshop, participants will be able to:

  • Articulate their own moral stance on when lying to clients may be necessary or appropriate.

  • Weigh the value they place on honesty against the value they place on other general ethical principles.

  • Defend their chosen policy on holding individual secrets in couple or family therapy.


Benjamin Caldwell, PsyD

Benjamin Caldwell, PsyD

Education Director, SimplePractice Learning

Benjamin Caldwell, PsyD is a California-licensed marriage and family therapist (#42723). He currently serves as adjunct faculty for California State University Northridge in Los Angeles and The Wright Institute in Berkeley. He is the author of several books, including Basics of California Law for LMFTs, LPCCs, and LCSWs, and Saving Psychotherapy. He has served on the AAMFT Ethics Committee, and for several years as Chair of the Legislative and Advocacy Committee for AAMFT-California.